Sustainable Fish Harvest

Fisheries and Oceans Canada establishes harvest limits for wild fish stocks to protect stocks for the future. Of the 155 major stocks assessed in 2011, 137 (88%) were harvested at or below approved levels while 18 (12%) were harvested above approved levels.

Number of major stocks harvested relative to approved levels, Canada, 2011

Number of major stocks harvested relative to approved levels, Canada, 2011

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Major stocks were harvested above approved levels primarily in competitive fisheries or because of incidental landings in other directed fisheries.
Source: Fisheries and Oceans (2011) Fishery Checklist version 4.

Overharvest sometimes occurs when fleets are fishing under a competitive regime (i.e. fishers compete for a share of the total allowable catch), or when fish are caught as bycatchFootnote [1]in another fishery. Stocks that are harvested above approved levels are subject to quota reconciliation, where overharvest of a stock in one year is deducted from the harvest limit established for the following year.

Major stocks are classified using a consistent set of criteria, and include all stocks with a landed value of more than $1 million or landed weight of more than 2000 tonnes as well as other important stocks (see Data Sources and Methodsfor details).

The key decisions made by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Resource Management Directorate) are how much of a stock should be harvested and by whom. Harvest rates include removals of fish by all methods (i.e. targeted fishing, bycatch and other incidental mortality).

Harvest rates are reported against the removal reference as a baseline in cases where a removal reference is known. The removal reference is the maximum acceptable removal rate for the stock and is scientifically determined using information on the biology and condition of the stock, including monitoring and other data sources. As Canada has continued to implement the precautionary approach, more stocks have removal reference levels established. In cases where a removal reference has not been determined, harvest rates are determined by Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the basis of the best available information and knowledge of the biology, economics and social aspects associated with a given stock. The overall goal is always conservation, responsible and sustainable harvesting practices, and equitable distribution of the resource among user groups.

Sustainable Fish Harvest, by Stock Group

Stocks can be grouped based on similar biology. While harvest rates vary across the groups, most stocks in each of the groups are currently harvested within limits. Some species and stock groups are more difficult to monitor than others. For example, when fishers compete for a share of the total allowable catch, total harvest is more difficult to control that when fishers have individual quotas.

Number of major stocks harvested relative to approved levels, by group, Canada, 2011

Number of major stocks harvested relative to approved levels, by group, Canada, 2011

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Pelagic fish live in midwater or close to the surface, in contrast to groundfish, which are usually caught near the ocean bottom. Crustaceans are shelled animals with joints, such as lobsters, crab and shrimp. Molluscs include bivalve shellfish species such as clams, oysters and mussels.
Source: Fisheries and Oceans (2011) Fishery Checklist version 4.

Stocks that are harvested above approved levels are subject to quota reconciliation, where the overharvest is deducted from the harvest limit for the following year.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working to improve stock status reference points and control harvest levels through the adoption of the precautionary approach.

Related indicators

Other information

Theme III: Protecting Nature of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.
This indicator is used to measure progress toward Target 5.1: Sustainable Fisheries – Improve the management and conservation of major stocks of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

"Bycatch" is the part of a catch that is not the target species. "Incidental catch" is the unintentional catch of a different stock of the same species, and can also contribute to overharvest.

Return to footnote 1 referrer